Finding the Time to Descale
How conscientious are you when it comes to the routine maintenance on your espresso machine? If you’re anything like me, when your machine tells you it’s time to decalcify, you’ll brew for two or three weeks before finding the time to do so. It’s not that decalcifying is hard to do, or even time consuming, it’s just about making it a priority and getting it done.
For me, decalcification was due. Actually, it was overdue, but I’d been ignoring the notice and brewing on my Gaggia Titanium for the last few weeks. So I invited my partner in crime, Adam, over for lunch and a little routine maintenance. He’d never decalcified before, so it was another new experience for him.
When he arrived with Durgol Swiss Espresso Descaler in hand, the first thing he asked was if I really wanted to write a story about decalcifying, or if I just wanted an excuse to clean the machine. Well, yes to both, but I don’t think I’m alone out there.
So how much time does decalcifying really take?
The instructions that we printed off our website said it takes about 30-40 minutes, and that’s about right. From start to finish, it’s really pretty quick, honestly no more than 40 minutes. What I’ve noticed about this process is that you can do almost anything while you’re decalcifying. So if you’re a multi-tasking mom like me, it’s easy to do while the kids are playing or you’re finishing up the dishes.
And keep in mind that decalcifying is a requirement, not an option, for people like me who want to keep their machine running efficiently for a long time. It’s got to be done on a regular basis to remove the calcium and mineral build-up that occurs in the machine’s boiler. If it’s not done regularly, it will reflect in the ability to brew and froth milk because the water lines and valves may get clogged. I had noticed for about the past week my froth wasn’t up to par – so I wanted to find the time to decalcify, and this was the perfect reason.
Adam and I opened the bottle of Durgol and added it to a full water tank. I pressed the last button on my Titanium’s control panel that looks like two interlocking circles and held it until the message on the digital display changed to ‘Descaling Open Knob.’
At that point I pulled the machine up to the edge of the counter, opened the silverware drawer below the countertop and placed a water pitcher in the drawer directly underneath the steam wand. The ‘drawer trick’ comes in handy, and I know this from past descaling experience. Otherwise, I’d be standing there for 40 minutes holding a heavy water pitcher, so I’d recommend trying different techniques until you find one that works for you.
After that maneuver, I turned the steam knob and the machine began descaling. You’ll notice that water will begin to spurt out through the wand during the descaling cycle. When it’s over, the machine will notify you that ‘Descaling is finished.’ You can then dump the decalcified water in the sink and close the knob. Then rinse the water tank with fresh tap water. The machine will notify you to ‘Rinse machine, and fill water tank.’
I filled the water tank again, put the pitcher back underneath the wand and turned the knob. The machine began to run the rinse cycle, removing any leftover descaling solution.
After we’d finished the rinsing, my machine read ‘Ventilate.’ This just meant that no water was in the system, so we filled the tank again, pressed the water drop button, turned the steam knob and allowed water to flow freely from the tank. It was a pretty easy fix, and it was a message I’d seen before so I wasn’t too nervous.
The descaling process as a whole is absolutely painless. I just needed a little push to get it done, because like I said, it was well overdue. But that’s our secret, don’t tell anyone.